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Sanma

Champagne Coast - Santo's Sparkling Coastline

The east coast of Santo, the Champagne Coast, packs a punch with the sheer diversity of its offering. While the road is high-quality, and can easily be covered in a couple of hours (whether driving yourself, or going on a tour), take your time to explore what’s along the way, and you’ll find yourself duly rewarded.

Luganville

The largest town on Santo, Luganville’s a great spot to pick up supplies before heading further up the coast. The town's market is a hive of activity, where you'll find fresh fruit and vegetables. The main street is home to a range of businesses, from banks to restaurants to shops where you can buy everything from tshirts to camping equipment.

If you're looking to head further up the coast, you can wave down a B-bus on the main street. If you're looking to head to one of the islands just off southern Santo (Aore, Malo and Ratua are the three most visited by travellers), you'll be able to jump on a banana boat from Luganville's harbour. Santo's airport is just outside town. There are numerous flights per day to Port Vila and other islands in northern provinces.

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Million Dollar Point

The US Air Force had a base on the island of Santo during World War Two. From here, they mounted their defence of the Pacific. At the end of the war, instead of taking their artillery and goods back to the US, they drove it all off the end of what's now known as Million Dollar Point into the ocean.

What remains is a playground for snorkellers, divers, and even those who don't like to get their feet wet. Under the ocean's surface, you'll see all kinds of historic war memorabilia, which slowly washes up onto the shore. Be sure to go foraging for some of what's washed up, and you may just come across a vase, a bullet case or a headlight.

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Blue Holes

Santo's blue holes must be seen to be believed. Flashing sapphire amid the lush jungle, the swimming holes seem too perfect to be natural. Many are the product of freshwater springs trickling from the belly of the island's mountains, while some oscillate with the tide, filling with fish that dart in their crystal depths like wondrous, native aquariums. Don’t forget to take some cash with you, there’s often an entrance fee that helps cover the amenities provided by the local owners. As you work your way up the coast, you'll come across three main blue holes.

Riri Blue Hole is reached either by road, or by the Riri River (by hewn-out outrigger). Upon reaching the blue hole, you'll find yourself surrounded by lush rainforest.

Matevulu Blue Hole is best-reputed for its rope swing that adorns a giant banyan tree. Locals and visitors alike spend hours swinging into the blue hole, and leave feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Nanda Blue Hole has a platform sitting over a deep cerulean lake. 

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Champagne Beach

The coastline's namesake, Champagne Beach is world-renowned for its white, soft sand and lapping waves. It's often voted one of the best beaches in the world, and upon arrival here, you'll understand why. The beach is known as Champagne Beach because of the volcanic gases that come up through the sand at the shoreline to make it feel and look like champagne under your feet. 

Many come to Champagne Beach for the quintessential Instagram shot holding a glass of bubbles on the beach before continuing up the coast. While we'd not want to deprive your friends and family of such a shot, we suggest spending more time here to look through the market stalls, laze along the beach, and play with the ever-effervescent children who love visitors to their little slice of paradise.

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Port Olry

At the end of the road, you'll come to sleepy Port Olry. French is widely spoken up this end of the island, and you'll find treehouses (where you can also stay the night!) and beach shack restaurants dotting the sandy shoreline. 

Spend a few hours just kicking back and soaking up the sun's warmth, perhaps take a walk along the beach, or even kayak out to nearby islands. Many visitors to the Champagne Coast don't make it all the way up to Port Olry, and for that, they are truly missing out on one of the true gems of Santo. Be sure not to miss out.